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Salon’s embrace of creative risk-taking

March 2, 2021

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Sarah Fearon sang “That’s Life” with ukulele accompaniment.

 

 

Salon Diary / By Maureen Hossbacher

Sarah Fearon launched the virtual salon by harkening back to the days when we gathered at favorite watering holes. Her essay recalled her stint as a “beverage engineer” in the mid-‘90s at the Highlife bar.  She followed it with a rendition of the song “That’s Life,” with ukulele accompaniment, personifying IAW&A’s embrace of creative risk taking.  Post pandemic, when Sarah next faces a comedy club audience, her jokes may have musical accompaniment! A member of the Friars Club and of the IAW&A Board, her comedy has been  featured on the stages of Gotham Comedy Club, Stand Up New York, Carolines and The Metropolitan Room.

Next, John Kwok read a a somewhat harrowing futuristic tale, “Down in Flames,” involving two Taylor Swift lookalikes, one a robot, and an abusive young hipster who is taught a painful lesson by the latter. A prize-winning student of Frank McCourt at Stuyvesant High School, John is an evolutionary biologist and photographer.  

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Frequent presenter Thom Molyneaux performed selections from a one-man show he’s developing based on monologues he’s encountered in his long career as an actor, director, and  teacher. Tonight he did the greatest opening monologue ever, from “Henry the Fifth,” where Shakespeare teaches the audience how to watch his play. Thom followed that with the opening and closing monologues from “The Glass Menagerie,” where Tennessee Williams introduces his new kind of theatre, a theatre of “poetic memory. ”  

 

Tennessee Williams pictured in 1965 at the 20th anniversary celebration of the premiere of “The Glass Menagerie.”

 

Poet Anthony Roberts shared five poems from his new book, “The Clearing Barrel” (Jade Press):  “Preakness 1995,” “ A Sudden Departure,”  “Topography,”  “For Joe,” and “Grandfather.“  A veteran of Baltimore and Afghanistan, Roberts teaches at Fairleigh Dickinson University and this is his 2nd collection of poetry. Signed copies can be pre-ordered through his website www.varangiwriting.com and the book itself will be released on March 16. 

First time presenter, Lori Cassels, a playwright and songwriter originally from New York City, joined the zoom from California to enliven the proceedings with two original songs about her grandmothers. “Katie With the Smiling Eyes” hailed from Sligo, and Margaret, the subject of “Legacies,” from Leitrim.  Cassels was selected as a  Fellow at Eugene O’Neill’s Tao House last December and has completed  the first draft of a play about Oona O’Neill. You can contact her at [email protected] for her CD, “Tear of the Clouds.”

 

Oona O’Neill in a photograph taken in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1943.

 

“I Have My Mother’s Voice” was one of the six poems Marcia Loughran read from her prize-winning chapbook, “My Mother Never Died Before.” Marcia’s is a familiar voice at IAW&A salons, always sure to beguile and amuse. Her new chapbook and her first, “Still Life With Weather,” also a prize winner, are available on her website: www.marciabloughran.com.

Making her salon debut, Cork actress, writer, director and costume  designer Miriam Kelleher presented an excerpt from a one-woman show she is developing. “My Mind” is a dark comedy that details the deterioration of  Sarah Sop’s relationships and her ignorance of her mental illness. Kelleher unveiled her acting chops by delivering a riveting monologue in which Sarah unburdens herself to her twin sister who she believes to be sitting beside her but who does not in  fact exist. 

The irrepressible John McDonagh, writer, raconteur and 40-year yellow cab driver was on hand to discuss his memoir in development which tells the story of how he went from spinning cabbie yarns sitting on a bar stool in Rocky Sullivan’s on Lexington Avenue to standing on a stage at the Irish Repertory Theatre on 22nd street, where his one-man show, “Off the Meter, On the Record,” had a month-long extended run.

Malachy McCourt, founder of Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc. and Cheerleader-in-Chief, closed the evening by praising the salons as “a literary bank vault of treasures.”  Musing on recent subversive shenanigans at the Capital, he read an excerpt from the memoir of New York politician George Washington Plunkitt proposing the idea of New York City seceding from New York State.  Plunkitt was a Tammany era state senator famous for saying he practiced “honest graft,” (an oxymoron perhaps that era’s equivalent of “alternative: facts”).  Malachy, as usual, closed with a song, this time a jaunty verse from “Crúiscín Lán.”

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